16 MARCH 2015

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Airberlin’s USB seats

It may seem a very simple innovation and now available on most long haul flights.  Air Berlin is to introduce the new Recaro BL3520 seat which includes USB ports for plugging in smartphones and tablets for charging when airborne on its European routes.

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Curio brand for Europe

Hilton’s latest brand, called Curio, is about to arrive in Europe.

Launched in June 2014, Curio offers upper upscale and luxury independent hotels the opportunity to partner with Hilton Worldwide whilst maintaining their own distinct identity and local charm.  Clients stay at autonomous properties knowing they have the standards and strength of Hilton behind them, an insurance if you like.

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Fastracked easyJet

easyJet has announced that its annual card holders will now benefit from access to Fast Track security at 34 airports across Europe from next Thursday (19 March).

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This issue is written aboard Swan Hellenic’s fine Minerva, somewhere in the Indian Ocean.  That of 23 March comes from the team at Emerald Media headed by Alison Chambers and if you have intelligence please send it direct to office@emeraldmedia.co.uk.

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COMMENT: Salmon to Northolt

Last Friday the House of Commons Transport Select Committee reported on the smaller regional airportsand today the National Connectivity Task Force. 

Parliament did not touch the ‘hub’ of the problem. 

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‘UK Aviation Conference’ – first time ever

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) has announced that its Annual Conference would for the first time be held in association with the aviation trade bodies, BAR UK, BATA and RAeS.  The dates have been set 24-25 November.

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Airbus and Iberia

Iberia's continuing financial improvement seems to be the reason for an agreement with Airbus for the early delivery of the A330-200s the airline ordered last year.

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Gulf ‘Open Skies’

The verbal exchange between the US and the major Gulf area airlines continues.
   
A UAE spokesman said it is "happy to talk" to the United States about alleged state according to Gulf News.

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Heathrow rail link dropped

The GTMC, the travel management body, has called the government’s decision to scrap plans for a link to Heathrow as part of the HS2 network “disappointing” and “frustrating”.

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Leonardo Hotel Heathrow

Israel’s largest hotel group, and very strong in Europe, Leonardo Hotels, opens its first UK hotel today (Monday 16 March). The property will be familiar to many, previously the circular Holiday Inn London Heathrow at the junction of the Bath Road and the A437 to Harlington.  It has 230 rooms.

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MH370

Perhaps the greatest mystery in the history of aviation still remains unsolved 12 months after MH370 disappeared “somewhere in the ocean”.  Aircraft have vanished before but not carrying 239 passengers and crew.

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SITA is ‘personal’

The ‘connected passenger’ has become a reality according to SITA, the airline communications expert, with 97% of airline passengers carrying at least one personal electronic device.

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The third runway – Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific Airways has reiterated its unequivocal support for the building of a third runway at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). The airline believes this is the only viable way to ensure the long-term competitiveness of Hong Kong as a premier aviation hub to support tourism, international trade, logistics, finance and professional services.  Work is hoped to start next year.  In 2014 63m passengers moved through the airport, also the world’s largest air cargo hub.

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Virgin Atlantic into profit

The investment by Delta Air Lines (49%) seems to be paying off with Virgin Atlantic returning to profit for the first time since 2011 as it benefits from the joint venture.  The airline made £14.4m in 2014, representing an improvement of £65.4m on the previous year.  More than 4.5m passengers flew on joint services in its first year of operation and the two airlines expect this number to continue to grow in 2015.

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ON TOUR – San Francisco, California

If you’re going to San Francisco wear some flowers in your hair… or just read Steve Bridgewater’s guide to this Californian city to get the most out of your trip!

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AND FINALLY: Jeremy Clarkson

It would appear that Jeremy Clarkson has (nearly) departed the BBC.

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Castellón (Spain) and Ryanair

Ryanair is to become the first scheduled user of Castellón-Costa Azahar Airport on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, 50 miles north of Valencia.  Flights will link the airport to Stansted three-times-weekly and Bristol twice-weekly from September this year.

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DoubleTree Docklands

Hilton Worldwide has announced plans to redevelop this year and reflag Hilton London Docklands Riverside as DoubleTree by Hilton London Docklands hotel. 

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Electric car hire

London is set to host the finish of the world’s first fully electric motor racing series, Formula E, in Battersea Park in June.  The Government’s Go Ultra Low campaign, launched by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, is investing £9m to increase the number of car charging points across the country as the popularity of electric vehicles is expected to rise. 

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Hampton by Hilton – Newcastle

Located opposite the Central Railway Station the Hampton by Hilton – Newcastle has opened.  The mid-priced global brand has more than 2,000 properties across the globe.  The hotel is located within walking distance from the biggest attractions in the city, including the Metro Arena, the Sage Gateshead and Newcastle United Football Club.

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Lufthansa improvements

Faced with severe competition from both Turkish airlines and carriers based in the Gulf Lufthansa has launched a ‘quality’ campaign with new products and services.

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Superjet success

Mexican airline Interjet confirmed the option for an additional 10 Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft from the joint venture between the Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi and Russia’s Sukhoi.

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SWISS from Ireland

Geneva is going to join Zurich with a SWISS service from Dublin starting 26 June.  The four times a week service will be operated by a 162-seat two-class Airbus A320 taking just over two hours.  Flights are in competition with Aer Lingus, already established on the route, and also Zurich.

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VLM progress

Since it separation from CityJet Belgium airline VLM has been making steady progress with route openings and will on 27 April introduce new operations to Waterford, Ireland from Luton and Birmingham airports.  (See BTN 3 November)

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